Awesome Men Throughout History: Bas Rutten
This week’s Awesome Man is a guy who really should have been inducted a long time ago: MMA/kickboxing legend and former UFC champion Bas Rutten. If you’ve been a UFC fan since the beginning, you’ve probably seen him kick a lot of dudes in the liver, and if you were a Pride fan, you probably heard his goofy commentary, which was sometimes more entertaining than the matches he was calling (“There’s no rules, so he can pull the pants down”).
Rutten was born and raised in the Netherlands and started training in martial arts to compensate for his eczema and asthma, which made him an easy target for bullies as a kid. According to legend, Rutten’s parents were rather conservative and weren’t really keen on their son taking karate, and yanked him out of it after Bas knocked out a local bully and the police showed up at their house. Bas switched to boxing, but returned to karate after moving out of his parents’ house.
As a professional fighter, Rutten’s record is beyond reproach. He only lost four fights in six years, and ended his career on a 22-match undefeated streak (not counting a draw against Osami Shibuya) that I don’t think anyone else has ever matched. He was particularly fond of strikes to the liver, and his kickboxing skills were such that a match against Ryushi Yanagisawa ended with Yanagisawa being carried from the ring and spending two days in the hospital. In his prime, Rutten had that Mike Tyson aura where people were afraid to hit him because he would hit back.
Now that his in-ring career is over, Rutten has made a career for himself as an MMA analyst, coach, and as an actor, having appeared in shows like 18 Wheels of Justice and King of Queens. This brings up an interesting point about Rutten: when he’s not beating the crap out of you, he’s a remarkably likeable guy in a way that most professional athletes (especially fighters) aren’t. He’s funny and engaging without being arrogant, and his typically goofy European sense of humor lends itself to some pretty hilarious quotes.
Speaking of, he did a series of fitness PSAs for Cartoon Network that still makes me laugh every time I watch the whole thing. “Hey you! Sitting on your bohunkus!” isn’t something that any other fighter could get away with saying, I don’t think. The fact that he yells his own name (and occasionally clucks like a chicken) while throwing punches and kicks is pretty funny, too.
Again, for someone I should be absolutely terrified of, Bas Rutten is a fun and engaging guy. He’s currently co-hosting Inside MMA on HDNet, and starring in Fuel TV’s Punk Payback. He might also be smacking drunks around in bars, as that’s apparently a hobby of his and he’s made a few instructional videos on the subject. I’ll end this by sharing one of those videos. Enjoy!
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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.